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Laurent de Brunhoff has kept the spirit of Babar and his family alive for more than fifty years. Originating as a bedtime story told by Laurent's mother, Babar first came to life though the art of Laurent's father, Jean de Brunhoff, who produced seven books about the character. Laurent built on his father's work and created many adventures for the elephant family, giving the series new spirit though his use of line and colour.
Childhood fans of Jean de Brunhoff's Babar the Elephant stories and yoga practitioners will find a happy confluence in Babar's Yoga for Elephants by his son, Laurent de Brunhoff. Author of a number of previous books that continue Babar's adventures, de Brunhoff's passion for yoga practice is infectious as he draws Babar starting his day with the Salutation to the Sun (with complete step-by-step instructions and the pachyderm demonstrating each position) and other stretches and breathing exercises. Humorous touches make the most of the elephant's anatomy ("I find wrapping my trunk around my feet helps to stretch"), and a series of pages show Babar and friends emulating landmarks while practicing various positions (e.g., a Downward-Facing Dog in front of I.M. Pei's pyramid at the Louvre). A poster of the pachyderm pulls out of the inside back cover.
Gr 2-4-Babar confides that even elephants experience stress in their day-to-day living, and a little yoga, it seems, goes a long way in providing comfort and relaxation. In fact, the book starts out by revealing that little clay cylinders found in a cave near Celesteville prove that elephants invented yoga. This find was authenticated at the National Library, where elephants, together with human yoga experts, "discovered that all of the poses depicted on the seals are still practiced today." Spreads feature instructional text on one side, with Babar illustrating the poses on the other. After introducing yoga to Celesteville, Babar and Celeste go on a worldwide jaunt where they practice their favorite yoga positions in front of famous landmarks. The Proud Warrior is demonstrated in front of the Eiffel Tower, the Bridge is practiced in front of the Half Dome in Yosemite, and, because "the traffic in Times Square is terrible," the Lotus position returns Babar's and Celeste's minds to Celesteville. While the art style is reminiscent of the original books, the colors are far more subdued. A note at the end reminds children that "this book is intended for elephants interested in yoga," and that "humans and other animals should consult books written specifically with them in mind." The book includes a large, removable poster. Babar's Yoga would be useful for larger collections needing information on the subject.-Lisa Gangemi Kropp, Middle Country Public Library, Centereach, NY Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.